The Care Quality Commission (CQC) has stopped routine inspections as the UK confirms more than 1,500 cases of coronavirus.
Starting today (Monday 16 March), the CQC will halt inspections in dental practices and other healthcare providers.
It confirms it will instead focus on supporting providers to help keep patients safe in response to the pandemic.
As of 9am on Monday 16 March, there have been 1,543 confirmed cases of coronavirus in the UK.
Of those who have tested positive for the virus, 35 have died.
Chief executive of the CQC, Ian Trenholm, said: ‘During this period, our priority will be to support those who deliver health and social care to keep people safe during this global health emergency.
‘We will, therefore, be stopping routine inspections from today. It may still be necessary to use our inspection powers in a very small number of cases when there is clear evidence of harm, such as allegations of abuse.
‘In adult social care, our inspectors will also be acting as a support for registered managers. They will provide advice and guidance throughout this period in the absence of a single national body equivalent to NHS England.
‘We are talking to social care providers about how to most effectively collect information from them. This is to ensure that the government has a clear picture of the impact that Covid-19 is having on the sector.’
The regulator is arranging clinically qualified CQC special advisors to help the frontline national response to the global crisis.
Additionally, from next week, its customer contact centre is set to answer non-clinical Covid-19 calls. This is to help handle the volume of NHS 111 calls.
The NHS Confederation welcomed the decision, saying frontline staff will ‘breathe a sigh of relief’.
Its chief executive, Niall Dickson, added: ‘While regulation has an important role to play, the focus now has to be on doing everything we can to help the NHS face the greatest challenge in its history.’
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